Justin Hemm headed to ball state
Had you asked Hemm when he was in junior high, he never would have given a thought about playing quarterback at the college level. He came up through the youth and junior high programs as a running back.
"I did (always think about playing college football)," Hemm said. "But, I never would have expected to be playing quarterback - or playing at Ball State."
But, a fateful decision was made his freshman year. At, the time, future Mr. Football and Ohio State running back Brandon Saine was a sophomore in the Indians backfield.
"The freshman coaches made the decision to move Justin (Hemm) to running back," Nees said. "He had the ability to play the position. And I think they (Justin Hemm, Brandon Saine) complimented each other in the backfield).
The rest as they say is history.
In Hemm's three years as Piqua's starting quarterback, the Indians compiled a record of 27-10.
He completed 226 of 454 passes for 3,702 yards and 40 touchdowns, while throwing just 25 interceptions. His talents at running back carried over to the quarterback position, were he rushed 3,005 yards on 482 carries and run for 25 touchdowns.
None of which was a surprise to Nees.
"You can see it in the guys who are going to be special," Nees said. "You definitely could see that (when Hemm was a freshman)."
Of course, Hemm will always remember his junior year, when he guided the Indians to the Division II state championship, accountig for more than 3,000 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns (22 passing, 10 rushing).
"I have a lot of great memories from the last three years," Hemm said. "We had a lot of great guys on the state championship team. That is something I am always going to remember."
And Hemm admits he still has much to learn about the quarterback position.
"I think I probably have terrible footwork," he said with a laugh. "I was over at Ball State and the quarteback was going over everything and it was pretty complicated."
He will be the fourth Indian on the Cardinal roster. Bryant Haines is a starting linebacker, while red-shirt freshman Jafe Pitcock (defensive tackle) and Pete Rolf (defensive end), both played on Piqua's state championship team with Hemm.
"It definitely makes thing easier knowing those guys," Hemm said. "I always enjoyed playing with them (at Piqua)."
Nees said the relationship with Ball State is a plus for the program.
"I think the thing is they know we are being honest with them (during the recruiting process)," Nees said. "And they are honest with us. They were excited to get an athlete of Justin's caliber."
Hemm knows there is much hard work ahead.
"It is hard to say (his goal for playing time)," Hemm said. "They have a great quarterback their and have another coming in. We will see how everything goes."
Nees knows Hemm can make an impact somewhere.
"I was really tempted to put him in the defensive backfield when he was a sophomore," Nees said. "But, we had Bryant Fox at safety, so that position wasn't a priority. He could play as a receiver or defensive back."